(Bloomberg) -- Aviva Plc’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson said the number of insurance agents in some of Asia’s most developed markets could halve over the next three years as digital sales start to eat into their commissions.

The agents, used by some Chinese mainlanders to avoid capital controls, have been a key driver of earnings for insurers in Asia including in Hong Kong, where people have flocked to buy policies. Wilson, a former CEO of Hong Kong-based AIA Group Ltd., said numbers will also fall as more experienced agents approach retirement age. His comments contrast with competitors including Prudential Plc, which generate about half of its earnings in Asia, much of that from its 500,000-strong agency force.

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